Nurture groups

A nurture group is a focused, short-term intervention for primary or secondary school pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties which make it harder for them to learn in a mainstream class.

Nurture groups have run in the UK for over 50 years and are now an international intervention. We've delivered our training to education professionals in Canada, New Zealand, Malta, Greece, Japan, Australia, Romania and Ireland. 

Three school children holding musical instruments with a female teacher

What is a nurture group?

A nurture group is a school-based intervention run by two members of staff with up to twelve pupils. The aim is to replace missing early experiences by developing positive pupil relationships with both teachers and peers in a supportive environment. Effective nurture group practice follows the Six Principles of Nurture. Our assessment tool the Boxall Profile® determines which pupils would require to be in the nurture group based on their social, emotional, and mental health needs.

Nurture groups are supported and recommended by organisations, such as Ofsted, Estyn and HMIE.

How do nurture groups help?

Nurture groups are designed to address the social and emotional needs that can hamper pupils’ learning. So as well as providing academic teaching, the group is designed to help children develop vital social skills, to develop confidence and self-respect, and to take pride in behaving well and in achieving.

In nurture groups, there’s a special emphasis on language development and communication: nothing is taken for granted and everything is clearly explained by the staff, with the help of demonstrations and (where helpful) physical gestures. Pupils are given the time they need both to listen and be listened to. 

Group of secondary school children gardening

Nurture groups are also designed to give pupils vital opportunities for social learning – for example by encouraging them to share food at breakfast and snack time, and to help other pupils in the group. The friendly, supportive relationship between the two members of staff is also itself an important source of learning – a model for the pupils to observe and copy. 

School girl eating apple in a nurture group snack time

Nurture group training

At nurtureuk, we provide training, publications and resources to support your nurture group provision.

Our Theory and Practice of Nurture Groups training is credit rated by the Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework (SCQF) and provides practitioners with a comprehensive understanding of nurture principles, attachment theory and neuroscience, and the Boxall Profile®. We also deliver a free webinar for those looking to set up or already running a nurture group, and have a variety of nurture group resources available in our shop.

The Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award

This award recognises schools providing excellent nurture group provision that follows best practice guidance and principles.